My girlfriend and I have been together in a long-distance relationship for three years. The relationship has been “open” for quite some time and we’re looking for a little advice/perspective on an issue that keeps popping up. Before I go into though, I want to make it very clear that neither of us have an issue with the other person seeing other people. That’s not in question. I even text and have gone for drinks with a few of her “boyfriends” so I’m really hoping I don’t get opinions like, “The problem is that you have an open relationship in the first place!”
So first of all, one of the “rules” of our open relationship is that we’re both a priority over any of the people we see. She comes before any of my girlfriends, and I come before any of her boyfriends. Second, another one of our rules is that anyone else we see has to know that we’re in a serious, long-term relationship. With that said, here’s the problem we’re having. She’s very sensitive to the feelings of others, and sometimes her attempts to be respectful of the feelings of her boyfriends ends up seeming very disrespectful and hurtful to me. For example, we talk on the phone every night before bed, even if it’s just a quick call to say goodnight and I love you. However, when one of her boyfriends is spending the night, she feels like we should skip this call. Here’s another example. She has pictures of me and of us together up at her house, and when one of her boyfriends comes over, she takes the pictures down. (To be fair, she also thinks that I should take down the pictures of her at my house when I have someone over, which I don’t do because I find it disrespectful to her).
From her perspective, she does these things in an attempt to be respectful to the feelings of her other boyfriends. In her own words, even though I’m her priority, these guys are still human beings with feelings that need to be respected. All of her boyfriends know that she has a serious, long-term boyfriend who takes priority, but at least one of them is very uncomfortable with the fact that he’s dating a girl who already has a boyfriend.
From my perspective, it feels as though these things are not only attempts to hide our relationship from her boyfriends, but are also decisions that make her boyfriend’s feelings a priority over mine. In other words, her attempts to be respectful of her boyfriend’s feelings come across as disrespectful to my feelings. I feel like if a guy is uncomfortable with the fact that she calls me before bed and has my pictures up, it’s his responsibility to either remove himself from the situation or learn to accept it.
So my question is, are my hurt feelings to things like this an over-reaction? Am I putting too much weight on a phone call before bed and pictures on the wall? Or is it reasonable to expect her to leave the pictures up and call me before bed, even if it makes her boyfriends uncomfortable?